Isopod Species

Armadillidium granulatum

Armadillidium granulatum

Armadillidium granulatum is one of the largest species of Armadillidium available in the hobby. It commonly has attractive yellowish markings on its carapace, similar to those that some A. vulgare have, but moreso. The texture of this isopod’s carapace is a little coarser and more matte than the shiny A. vulgare. This is a relatively new isopod for me.

Armadillidium klugii. ‘Montenegro’ (Clown Isopod)

Armadillidium klugii ‘Montenegro’ or Clown isopod

This is easily one of the most colorful isopods in the hobby. The vivid red-orange skirts and white and/or yellow spots have to be seen in person to be believed! Like other Armadillidium species, A. klugii prefers good ventilation, and A. klugii likes things on the dry side, although a moist hide is a necessity. This species is said to be very prolific at warm temperatures, and I do notice faster reproduction during the summer. This species also seems to appreciate more protein than some other isopods.

Armadillidium nasatum ‘Peach’ (Peach Pillbug)

Armadillidium nasatum ‘Peach’

This peachy morph of A. nasatum is slightly smaller than A. vulgare. Its coloration is somewhat variable, some are quite a light peach color, while others are richer. Occasionally, a grayish wild-type even shows up. This species likes good ventilation, and needs a moist area to retreat to. It will congregate in large numbers under cork bark flats. This species is on the prolific side for Armadillidium, and has a hearty appetite.

Armadillidium sp. ‘Magic Potion’

Armadillidium sp. ‘Magic Potion’

This Armadillidium species is a recent acquisition for me. It is almost like a Dalmatian version of Armadillidium vulgare, with dark and yellowish markings. It appears to be fairly secretive. I obtained a few young individuals, so I have not yet observed any mancae in the enclosure. Hopefully I will find some juveniles soon.

Armadillidium maculatum (Zebra Pillbug)

Armadillidium maculatum (Zebra Pillbugs)

This is one of my all-time favorite isopods. Not only is the striped pattern beautiful, but the isopods are hardy and fairly prolific. These characteristics make them great hobby isopods. Zebra pillbugs appreciate good ventilation and can tolerate fairly dry substrate, as long as they have a damp spot to which they can retreat. I have used these as cleanup crew members in a leopard gecko enclosure.

Armadillidium vulgare ‘High Yellow’ (High Yellow Pillbug)

Armadillidium vulgare ‘High Yellow’

Female Armadillidium vulgare with yellow markings are common, but a few years ago, my son discovered an A. vulgare with unusually high yellow. In the vicinity, we found several more that also had more yellow than normal, although not quite as highly marked as the one in the photo. We brought them and a few males home, and several generations later, it appears that the coloration breeds true for the females. I have a good number of juveniles, and is am excited to see what they look like when they grow up!

Armadillidium vulgare ‘Orange Vigor’

Armadillidium vulgare ‘Orange Vigor’

This beautifully colored morph of Armadillidium vulgare is aptly named: not only does it come in various shades of orange, but it is a very prolific strain, producing more quickly and more readily than any other Armadillidium vulgare strain I have kept. They prefer good ventilation and somewhat dry conditions, but need a damp retreat available at all times. Occasionally, this strain still throws wild types, but most are a beautiful orange, ranging from very light nearly yellow tone to to a rich, dark orange color.

Isopoda sp. ‘Tarragona’ $10 for 12

The scientific name of the species is unknown, so it is know by its collection locality in Spain. These are small isopods, perhaps twice the size of the dwarf whites. They come in two color morphs: pale gray, and pale orange. It is thought that this species may reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning that all individuals are females that produce genetic copies of themselves, a strategy followed by some other species of isopod. Moderately prolific, this species can handle low ventilation and very moist conditions quite well, making it a good candidate for dart frog vivariums as a cleanup crew member.

Cylisticus convexus (Curly or Teardrop Isopod)

Cylisticus convexus (Curly or Teardrop Isopod)

The Curly or Teardrop isopod is an underrated species…I believe they should be utilized more in cleanup crews in bioactive vivariums. They are fairly fast breeders and fast movers, and are more tolerant of low ventilation and high humidity than Armadillidium are. Interestingly, when they roll up, they form a slight teardrop shape, rather than a true sphere.

Dwarf striped isopod Nagurus cristatus $10 for 12

Nagurus cristatus (Dwarf Striped Isopods)

This species is quite small, but not quite as tiny as Trichorhina tomentosa or Trichoniscidae sp. ‘Jungle Micropod.’ Its is thought to reproduce through parthenogenesis…meaning it is an all-female species that produces genetic copies of itself. At first glance, this would seem to be a good species for a bioactive vivarium with dart frogs or small geckos in many respects, as I have found that it is one of the few that can thrive despite being preyed upon in such situations. However I have found this species to be inconsistent in its production. I once had a booming colony, which flourished for quite some time. It crashed for no apparent reason, and i have never had numbers like the original colony, though they haven’t died out completely either. Apparently, others have had similar problems with this species. I can’t particularly recommend keeping N. cristatus until the reason for these die-offs can be explained and hopefully prevented.

Oniscus asellus (skirted Isopods)

Skirted Isopods are a large species that really needs to be seen in person for its beauty to be fully appreciated. The almost metallic flecks on its dorsal surface are difficult to discern from a photo. This species prefers plenty of humidity and is content with minimal ventilation. It has a hearty appetite, and is moderately prolific.

Porcellio dilatatus (Giant Canyon Sowbugs)

Porcellio dilatatus ‘Giant Canyon’

The Giant Canyon Isopod, Porcellio dilatatus, used to hold the title of largest isopod in the hobby. There are now plenty of much larger Spanish Porcellio species in the hobby that get much larger, but P. dilatatus is still a respectably large isopod, topping out at around 1 inch long. It looks even larger because of its wide, stocky build. This is a fairly prolific species, tolerant of varying levels of humidity and ventilation. It should always be offered a moist hide. This isopod has a hearty appetite, but is fairly secretive…they burrow very quickly when disturbed.

Porcellio hoffmanseggi (Titans)

Porcellio hoffmanseggi (Titans)

This species, endemic to Spain, is one of the largest fully terrestrial isopods in the hobby. Its elongate build, large antennae, and extended uropods of the male contribute to the impression of great size. In Porcellio hoffmanseggi, the female is considerably smaller than the male and lacks the extended uropods. This sexual dimorphism makes it easy to distinguish male from female, even though they both have very similar coloration. Like other giant Spanish isopods, P. hoffmannseggi does best with good ventilation, and a humidity gradient that allows them to seek damper or drier areas whenever needed. They are sometimes known as ‘Hoffs’ or ‘Titans’ in the hobby.

Porcellio laevis ‘Dairy Cow’

Porcellio laevis ‘Dairy Cow’

Porcellio laevis is a fairly large, fast-moving isopod. It reproduces quickly, and is more visible and active in its enclosure than many other species of isopod. The species name, laevis, means smooth, and is given in contrast to its close relative, P. scaber (scaber means ‘rough’. P. laevis not only has a smoother, shinier carapace than P. scaber, it is also larger and more prolific. This particular morph, ‘Dairy Cow,’ is so named for the random dark patches on a white or off-white body. Though the effect is similar to the ‘Dalmatian’ morph of Porcellio scaber, ‘Dairy Cow’ has a much cleaner look, which is partly due to the smoother, shinier exoskeleton, but also because the pattern appears more consistent, in P. scaber, some individuals are nearly all white with few if any dark marking, while P. laevis always seems to have a good distribution of dark markings on a light background. This species is quickly becoming one of my favorite isopods, for all of the reasons cited above. It is a good candidate for a bioactive cleanup crew with quite a few species. It likes a somewhat moist substrate.

Porcellio laevis ‘Orange’

Porcellio laevis is a fairly large, fast-moving isopod. It reproduces quickly, and is more visible and active in its enclosure than many other species of isopod. The species name, laevis, means smooth, and is given in contrast to its close relative, P. scaber (scaber means ‘rough’. P. laevis not only has a smoother, shinier carapace than P. scaber, it is also larger and more prolific. This color morph, ‘Orange,’ is a more glossy orange than its close cousin, Porcellio scaber. This species is quickly becoming one of my favorite isopods, for all of the reasons cited above. It is a good candidate for a bioactive cleanup crew with a wide variety of species. It likes a somewhat moist substrate.

Porcellio scaber (Wild type)

This is, quite literally, one of the most common garden-variety isopods, along with Armadillidium vulgare. The wild type is typically a uniform gray color, sometimes with a slightly lighter skirt. This species is tolerant of varying degrees of humidity and ventilation, but does require a moist hide at all times.

Porcellio scaber ‘Calico’

Porcellio scaber ‘Calico’

This interesting morph of Porcellio scaber is hardy and breeds fairly quickly. Its coloration is highly variable. Most of the males look like wild-type P. scaber, but the females can be Orange, yellowish, greenish, or mottled in varying patterns of mixed colors. Like all P. scaber morphs, it is tolerant of varying humidity and ventilation, but always requires a moist hide.

Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’

Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’

This morph of Porcellio scaber is named for the Dalmatian dog, due to its white background color with random spots and splotches of wild-type color. Some have dark splotches well-distributed on the body, while others have little gray pigment. This hardy morph is tolerant of varying levels of humidity and ventilation, but must have a moist hide available. It is moderately prolific, and generally has a hearty appetite.

Porcellio scaber ‘Orange Dalmatian’

Porcellio scaber ‘Orange Dalmatian’

This morph was first created by Ryan Orr, by crossing Porcellio scaber ‘Spanish Orange’ with Porcellio scaber ‘Dalmatian’. The resultant offspring looked just like wild types, but the next generation yielded a few orange Dalmatians. I replicated Ryan’s experiment, and then later obtained some orange Dalmatians from his line, so these are descended from both. I am still finding some normal Dalmatians in this group. Just like the Dalmatians, there are a number of orange Dalmatians that are nearly all white.

Porcellio scaber ‘Spanish Orange’

Porcellio scaber ‘Spanish Orange’

This beautiful orange morph of Porcellio scaber has the distinction of being the first ‘hobby morph’ of isopod, at least as far as I know. In the dart frog hobby it is still sometimes known as the ‘Giant Orange’, as it is so much larger than the tiny tropical species dart frog keepers were used to culturing when this came on the scene. It is now dwarfed, of course, by Porcellio magníficus, among others. Just like the other morphs of P. scaber, this species is tolerant of varying humidity and ventilation levels, is moderately prolific, and has a hearty appetite.

Porcellionides pruinosus (Powder Blue Isopods)

Porcellionides pruinosus (Powder Blue Isopods)

This creatively named species is really more of a silver-gray than a true blue, but it is a nice-looking isopod all the same. Somewhat smaller than Porcellio scaber, this is a fast-moving, highly prolific isopod with a voracious appetite. For an isopod, it is quite tolerant of variations in humidity an ventilation. It even thrives in the rather warm, dry conditions in my bioactive leopard gecko vivariuk, althoug it needs access to a moist hide. These qualities make it one of the best candidates for bioactive vivaria, particularly those that are somewhat on the arid side. I have noticed that this species doesn’t seem to do as well in very humid viviría with limited ventilation. That said, this is an extremely hardy isopod. It tends to outcompete other species it is kept with.

Porcellionides pruinosus ‘Powder Orange’

Porcellionides pruinosus ‘Powder Orange’

This beautiful velvety orange isopod is a color morph of Porcellionides pruinosus . That being the case, its care and breeding is identical to the powder blue, above.

Trichoniscidae sp. (Jungle Micropods)

Trichoniscidae sp. (Jungle micropods, or dwarf purple, or Costa Rican Dwarf Isopod.)

This is the smallest species I keep. They are probably nearly the length of the dwarf whites, but tend to be narrower. Some individuals have amnearly purple tinge to them, while others are more gray. This secretive species tends to hide in the substrate or under other cover, but it makes a good candidate for bioactive vivariums with inhabitants that would be interested in eating larger isopods. For example, I have found that these survive in bioactive vivariums with my mourning geckos where other more conspicuous species, like P. scaber, were eaten.

Trichorhina tomentosa (Dwarf/Micro White woodlice)

Trichorhina tomentosa dwarf white/micro white woodlice

This is one of the first species ever cultured for use in bioactive vivariums. It stays quite small, but it will reproduce quite quickly in good conditions. It prefers higher humidity and does not need a lot of ventilation, making it a good species to keep in tropical and subtropical vivariums, such as those intended for dart frogs. Each individual is a female that produces clones of itself, which helps make the species quite prolific. Warm temperatures (high 70s to low 80s) seem to increase the speed with which it reproduces.